India’s first day of reopening

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NEW DELHI, 8th June, 2020:  People in the second most populous country in the world stepped out of their homes today for the first time in 10 weeks to go to mosques and temples, but scenes from across India showed worshippers exercising caution, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing to ward off Coronavirus.

Indians visited shopping malls and restaurants, but in small numbers because of strict capacity limits imposed under government guidelines to avoid crowding and chances of the virus spreading. Traffic was brisk in the national capital of Delhi which was free from traffic jams during the protracted lockdown.

Despite the “Unlock,” which began its phase one today, the risk from COVID-19 infection was underlined when Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal went into self-quarantine with suspected symptoms of the dreaded virus, including fever. He will undergo a test on Tuesday.

Delhi government has not allowed hotels and banquet halls in the city to reopen because they may be needed to be turned into makeshift hospitals if COVID-19 infections continue to spike.

Every day marks a new record in spike in infections in India, but the World Health Organisation, WHO, has been sanguine about the increase in positive cases.

“In South Asia, not just in India, but in Bangladesh, Pakistan and other countries of South Asia with large dense populations, the disease has not exploded,” Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergency expert, said at a news conference.

According to Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, India’s spread of the pandemic “looks big, but for a country of this size it is still modest.”

India has recorded 256,611 positive cases so far, according to latest statistics from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare here. Of these 124,430 patients have recovered while 7,200 have died, which leaves active cases numbering 124,981.

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